A wood-burning oven provides a beautiful focal point in an outdoor kitchen. It is also a great stand alone for outdoor cooking and entertaining. Any pizza oven project involves more than just the oven itself. The oven requires a reinforced concrete footing and a concrete block base with an insulated crossover slab (or a steel oven base stand), insulating, weatherproofing and finish-out masonry.
When planning an oven, leave plenty of space because ovens are deeper than a standard fireplace. The most popular sizes in residential installations are 40” and 36” internal diameters. Allow roughly 6’ square for an oven to allow room for finish-out materials.
Foundation and inspection requirements vary by municipality. Check with your local governing groups before building. Wood-burning pizza ovens can weigh over 5,000 lbs. We recommend using #4 rebar. In most installations, the oven foundation should have a 12-18” footing with the center at least 6” deep.
Most residential installations go for a basic concrete block base with wood storage below the oven. The base can extend to accommodate other cooking appliances and storage. The concrete block base must be reinforced to support the weight of a wood-burning oven.
The Insulated Crossover Slab
A correctly insulated and formed crossover slab is critical. The crossover slab becomes the base of the oven hearth, and it is an important thermal break. The crossover slab can either limit or augment the oven’s thermal mass. The crossover slab must be absolutely level in every direction before we build the oven vault (or assemble a refractory kit).
We prefer to do the insulated crossover slab ourselves, even if another contractor (or the homeowner) has built the base. In addition to needing a perfectly level surface, we use a proprietary layering of insulating and non-insulating material to control the final thermal mass of the oven. The right thermal mass may vary depending on how you plan to use the oven.
The Oven Core
For the oven itself, choose either a handcrafted wood-burning oven or a refractory oven kit. See our Texas Oven and Do-it-yourself-kits pages for more information on the right oven for you.
Insulation and Weatherproofing
Once the oven core is constructed, it is wrapped in a ceramic blanket and a rough coat of high-heat mortar. The construction and insulation on our handcrafted wood-fired ovens provide days of cooking from a single burn. A well-insulated oven is comfortable to touch on the outside even when the internal temperature is over 1,000 degrees. The insulated oven core can be weatherproofed in either a dome or box shape.
Dome – a visible dome is the classic shape. Once the oven has a rough coat of stucco to protect the insulating blanket, it is cured before finishing.
Box – the dome is enclosed in a block box. This option works when the oven is enclosed in a wall or finished with a gabled roof. The oven core is enclosed in a small concrete block box to protect the insulating blanket and is cured before finishing.
We customize the finish of every oven. From the classic exposed dome oven with a rough stone façade to a sleek modern stucco box with steel trim, we finish each oven to suit your taste. A beautiful wood-burning oven will anchor any outdoor space and complement your entertaining style.